Aug 15, 2014
01:44 PM
Arts & Entertainment

Undying Love, Murder Plot, (Dinner)—A Magic (Flute) Evening in Middlebury

Undying Love, Murder Plot, (Dinner)—A Magic (Flute) Evening in Middlebury

Rebecca Palmer will sing Pamina in Die Zauberflote ("The Magic Flute") on Aug. 23 at The Westover School in Middlebury.

Evening ascends toward its lovliest moments of the year as August slides down the back of high summer toward September. The heat of piercing days begins to abate, the light grows gentler and more diffuse, hinting of autumn, and yet a feeling remains that idylls are allowed, pressures may be discounted.

It’s the perfect time to go out—for day trips, walks in the woods, visits to museums, and long, lingering dinners. In culture rich Connecticut, all of that can be very satisfying, like perfect chamber music.

If you dare to turn up the volume, a terrific opportunity awaits Aug. 23 in Middlebury to experience some of the state’s unsung cultural amenties at a level that’s a little more, well, operatic.

The full experience features dinner and drinks in a singular venue, a lovely walk to one of the state’s prettiest private school campuses, and then—with the dessert course served during intermission—a performance of the legendary tale (set in a mythical kingdom) of two sets of lovers seeking redemptive unions. Along the way to an ultimately happy ending there’s enslavement and a murder plot.

The event is a fully-staged (and costumed) production, with orchestra, of Mozart's “sublime and delightful last opera,” Die Zauberflote (“The Magic Flute”) K.V. 620.

The opera is being presented by the Connecticut Lyric Opera (CLO) Summer Institute, and the Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra, in collaboration with the Woodbury-based Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation (CSOF), which is sponsoring and promoting the event.

This production of “The Magic Flute” is the capstone of the CLO summer program for aspiring singers, held at Tunxis Community College in Farmington. It begins at 7:30 p.m. in the theater at The Westover School (1237 Whittemore Road in Middlebury.) Tickets are $40; $20 for senior citizens and students. Tickets will be available at the door, but those planning ahead can also send checks, payable to CSOF to: CSOF, P.O. Box 112,  Woodbury CT 06798. (Tickets will be held at the door.)

(Nadia Aguilar, left, will perform as Queen of the Night)

Apart from the opportunity to see a fully-staged opera presented by a professional company (the last in Connecticut), what makes this event special is the larger experience being offered.

Guests are invited to begin the evening at 5:30 p.m. with a two-course Evening at the Opera dinner at the nearby The Café at Whittemore Crossing, (right, the kitchen) a unique venue located in the same Shingle-style manse as Middlebury Consignment and The Shoppes at Whittemore Crossing. The cost, excluding tax and alcohol, is just $29.99. (Call the café directly for reservations and menu options, at 203-528-0130, or see the details and register online.)

After dinner, guests will leave their cars at Whittemore Crossing and enjoy a slice of the evening by walking the short distance to Westover (which has very limited parking). And dessert comes as the course served during intermission at the opera.

Altogether it’s a richly different and stimulating evening out that’s also a bargain (especially in the world of professional opera presentations).

(Emily Hughes, right, is Papagena.)

All of those attributes are offered thanks, in large part, to Dr. Vincent de Luise, MD, president of the Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation, founded in 2012 to to provide valuable performance experience to up-and-coming conservatory-trained singers, and to bring opera to young adults, exposing the next generation of concert-goers to the art form. (The other principal members are Carole Winer-Sorensen of The Country Loft special events venue and French antiques shop, Karen Reddington-Hughes of Abrash Galleries antique rugs and Maria Jablon.)

“Our mission and our passion is opera, and vocal music, and promoting it in Litchfield County,” Dr. de Luise says in a phone conversation about the “The Magic Flute” production.

Having attended a Master Class event Aug. 9 at Westover that featured some of the singers performing in “The Magic Flute,” Dr. de Luise can attest to how high the quality will be. (At the Master Class “superstar soprano” Jurate Svedaite (below), artistic co-director of the CLO’s summer institute, and Maestro Adrian Sylveen (below right), artistic director and conductor of CLO and conductor of the Connecticut Virtuosi Orchestra, offered “a wonderful glimpse into the creative process of making vocal music!") 

Just as students performers will be featured in “The Magic Flute,” Dr. de Luise says, the orchestra that evening will consist of roughly half professional musicians and half students.

“I think ‘The Magic Flute’ is a perfect summer choice,” Dr. de Luise says, in part because it can be viewed on so many different levels, and is an opera easily enjoyed by children.

In one way, it’s “the straightforward story of a prince and a princess and their undying love and devotion to each other, in the face of the usual, various and sundry forces of darkness and operatic mortal dangers, who come through these travails unscathed,” Dr. De Luise writes in “Mozart's Magical Mystery Tour de Force: Unraveling the Threads of Die Zauberflöte,” an essay written for the program book of an Opera Company of Brooklyn's concert performance.

He adds, “Die Zauberflöte is nothing more than another delightful opera by a great composer, this particular one quite approachable by both children and adults, a charming musical fairy tale that is replete with hummable tunes, a certifiable hero and  heroine, comical characters, a story line that is easy to follow, with  exciting moments and a happy ending, in which truth, morality, personal integrity, love and fidelity  win out.”

Ah, but those thoughts are just the overture to Dr. de Luise’s much deeper essay, which goes on to plumb the depth’s of “The Magic Flute’s” “allusions that exist on a deeper and more introspective plane … ,” with none “more foundational than the Masonic symbols that serve as  leitmotifs and recurrent threads throughout the opera.”

Digging even deeper, Dr. de Luise asks, “Could Zauberflöte also have contained  a hidden political agenda?” (Read his essay to discover the answer.)

On whatever level you choose to enjoy “The Magic Flute,” don’t miss this rare opportunity to enjoy a magical evening amid the late-summer beauty of the Litchfield Hills, with dinner and a substantive “cultural entree”—and also, of course, with generous spicing from love, plotting, dark deeds and a quest like none other.

See the website of Facebook page of the Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation to connect with the Aug. 23 performance.

To attend dinner at The Cafe at Whittemore Crossing, call 203-528-0130 for reservations and menu options, or go online.

The CSOF is a fully-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization. Anyone with a passion for opera and classical music who is interested in joining the team may call Dr. de Luise directly at 203-232-9028.

Select bios of singers to perform in “The Magic Flute”

Nadia Aguilar, soprano (Queen of the Night)

Born in Mexico. She began her singing studies at the age of 18 in 2008 at the School of Music and Dance of Monterrey. In 2010 she won the prize PECDA (finitials in Spanish) in Mexico and recently she won the second prize in Amici Vocal Competition, a Connecticut Opera Theater award. Her appearances include her debut in 2013 as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with Saltillo Opera in Mexico and Mrs. Fiorentino in Street Scene with Hartt Opera Theater in 2014. In 2012 Ms. Nadia Aguilar was granted a full scholarship to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance in the Hartt School from the University of Hartford, where she currently studies under the tutelage of the singer Maureen O’Flynn. Her next performances include The queen of the night in The Magic Flute with Connecticut Lyric Opera Summer Institute and the same role with Hartt Opera Theater in 2015.

 Rebecca Palmer (Pamina)

Soprano Rebecca Palmer hails from Canaan, Connecticut. She has obtained degrees from San Francisco Conservatory of Music (BM) and The Boston Conservatory (MM). Rebecca performed the roles of Le Feu & Le Rossignol (Ravel- L’Enfant et les Sortilèges) and Zerlina (Mozart- Don Giovanni) with The Boston Conservatory Opera Theater. She was reviewed and described as, "impeccable technical aptitude complemented by smooth and mature tone...[Rebecca Palmer] displayed a level of communication unparalleled among her fellow soloists." -The Boston Musical Intelligencer. Rebecca has been a member of Boston Opera Collaborative and attended the Middlebury College German Language School, where she sang the role of Barbarina (Mozart-Die Hochzeit Des Figaro). Rebecca furthered her language studies by attending Sprachenatelier in Berlin, Germany for 18 months. Rebecca is delighted to perform with Connecticut Lyric Opera Summer Institute the roles of Pamina & Second Lady (Mozart- Die Zauberflöte).

Emily Hughes (Papagena)

Emily Hughes graduated with a Bachelor’s of Music from DePaul University in Chicago in 2011, and has been seen throughout Connecticut in productions of opera, theatre, and music theater. She is returning to Connecticut Lyric Opera after covering the role of Despina in Così Fan Tutte last year. As a recitalist, Emily has a great love of both early music and new music; she has performed Bach as a soloist with the Bethesda Music Series in New Haven, and in 2012 she gave the world premiere performance of Words of St.Vincent,a composition for soprano and orchestra, at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Chicago. In 2011, she was selected to participate in the University of Miami at Salzburg Program. She currently studies with Martha Oneppo in New Haven.


Undying Love, Murder Plot, (Dinner)—A Magic (Flute) Evening in Middlebury

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